Your Geriatric Cat
When is the best time to start caring for your aging pet?
When they are a kitten. Staring off your cat’s life with good nutrition, scheduled veterinary appointments and a happy home, life sets a blueprint for a high quality life in older years. Most cats are considered geriatric by the age of 8 to 10 years. Much like humans, time takes its toll on vital organ functions as your cat ages. Cats are more subtle than dogs in showing you when they are sick or in pain. Paying attention to your cat’s behaviour will make detecting problems easier and help them live healthy lives well into their teens.
What you can do at home?
- Check your cats mouth, eyes or ears regularly.
- Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharge.
- Keep your pet’s sleeping area clean and warm.
- Make fresh water available at all times.
- Maintain a regime of proper nutrition and loving attention.
Obesity is a big health risk. An older cat is less active, so adjustments to your pet’s diet to reduce caloric intake is of the up most importance. This will relieve pressure on the joints as well as manage the risk of heart failure, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems and more. Other changes to nutrition should include increasing fibre, fatty acids and vitamins, while decreasing phosphorus, sodium, protein and fat.
Diabetes is common, especially in older cats. It is a disease in which our cat’s pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin.
Arthritis severity can range from slight stiffness to debilitation. You may detect this problem when he/she becomes less active about grooming and litter box habits. These signs may also include the slowing down of cognitive functions. Anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve the pain. Your veterinarian surgeon will prescribe any necessary medication.
Intolerance To Hot And Cold Temperatures
Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures occurs because your cat produces less of the hormones which regulate the body’s normal temperature. Move his/her bed closer to a heat source. Avoid letting outdoor cats out on cold days.
Tooth Loss Or Decay
Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew, but also increases the likelihood of infection or tumours. Cats are very sensitive to oral pain. Brushing and cleaning the teeth will keep tartar, gum disease and gingivitis at bay.
Constipation may point to colon problems or hairballs. A diet that is easily digestible and rich in nutrients is essential.
Skin Or Coat Problems
Skin or coat problems in ageing cats means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the coat’s hair thins and dulls over time. Regular grooming to maintain the coat’s lustre and fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.
Frequent colds and infections
Frequent colds and infections may indicate an impaired immune system. Bring your cat in for a check-up. Your veterinary surgeon may suggest a test for feline Leukaemia Virus and Feline Immondeficiency Virus.
Increased thirst is a possible sign of diabetes, Kidney failure or hyperthyroidism. Your veterinary surgeon will determine this and prescribe the appropriate medication.
Decreased Sense Of Smell
Decreased sense of smell may drastically reduce your cat’s appetite. Try serving smaller portions more often throughout the day. Ask your veterinary surgeon about foods formulated for geriatric cats.
How old is your cat?
|Age Of Your Cat
|In Human Years
|5 – 6 Months
|9 – 10 Months
|2 – 3 Years
|5 – 6 Years
|8 – 9 Years
|38 – 40 Years
Reference: Schering-Plough Animal Health